OWINGS MILLS - Several months later, Elvis Dumervil still has a difficult time watching Joe Flacco's improbable 70-yard game-tying touchdown pass from the fourth quarter of last season's AFC divisional playoff game between Baltimore and Denver.
Dumervil is a Raven now. But in January, Dumervil was still a member of the Broncos. And if not for that Flacco touchdown pass late in the final minute of the fourth quarter, Dumervil and the Broncos, not Flacco and the Ravens, would have likely gone on to face the Patriots in the AFC championship game with a shot at advancing to the Super Bowl.
"I could've gotten the sack and I didn't," Dumervil said. "Me personally, I feel like I could've rushed better, and it hurts every time I watch, even being here [with Baltimore now].
"Whatever team you're on, not being able to make a play when it's counted, when it's important ... that's the [reason] I took this offseason to make sure I got in the best shape of my career, so that whenever my team needs me I'll be ready."
Coincidentally, Dumervil's first chance at redemption will be against his former team, in the stadium he used to call home and as a member of the team that beat him and the Broncos during what proved to be his last game in a Denver uniform.
Dumervil spent the first seven years of his career with Denver, but he signed with the Ravens in March after a bizarre set of circumstances involving his contract, his agent, a fax machine and a missed deadline led to him being released by the Broncos.
Thursday's NFL Kickoff game between Baltimore and Denver will be Dumervil's first opportunity to square off against his old team, and it will also be his first time in the Broncos' stadium as an opponent.
"It's different," Dumervil said. "I've been in Denver for the first seven years of my career. Now going there to the visiting locker room is definitely different, but I'm excited. Like I've said before, I'm happy to be a Raven."
And Baltimore appears happy to have him.
Dumervil and Terrell Suggs are the two headliners of a pass rush that the Ravens feel has a chance to be dynamic this season.
Dumervil played just limited snaps during the preseason. But throughout the summer - whether it was during training camp or the preseason - Dumervil flashed the ability to be the same kind of difference maker as a pass rusher that he was for so many years with the Broncos.
"It's always nice to get a guy in there who can bring new ideas to you and new ways of doing things, and Elvis has certainly done that," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He's latched on to the things we're doing, so it's been a great mesh."
Dumervil didn't have a sack during the preseason. But according to Pro Football Focus, Dumervil had three quarterback hurries and two quarterback hits during the 38 snaps he was on the field for.
"Elvis is an outstanding player," Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said of his ex-teammate during a conference call Sunday. "He gives them a great pass rusher, a great athlete."
Dumervil was selected to the Pro Bowl each of his final three years with Denver that he was healthy, and he's coming off a season that he had 11 sacks and six forced fumbles.
He may have missed out on opportunity at a sack in a key moment during last season's playoffs, but he's long been considered one of the league's best pass rushers, and Thursday provides the first opportunity in a meaningful game for Dumervil to show what kind of dynamic he adds to the Ravens' defense.
Coincidentally, he'll have a chance to do it against his former team and in the stadium he used to call home.
"Elvis is a pretty relaxed guy," Suggs said. "He's been watching the playoff game since he got here because they're our first game. I think he's going to be calm. ... But when that ball is kicked off - once it is kicked off - he's going to be excited."